Obituary: Geert Jan van Oldenborgh

It is with great sadness that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) learnt of the death of former IPCC author Dr Geert Jan van Oldenborgh. Geert Jan passed away on 12 October 2021 after an 8-year battle with multiple myeloma, an incurable form of cancer.

He was a Lead Author on chapter 11 of IPCC’s Working Group I contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report. Chapter 11 is on Near-Term Climate Change Projections and Predictability.

Geert Jan was known as one of the founders of a relatively new field of climate science called climate attribution. Climate attribution is the relationship between extreme weather and climate change. He was a co-founder and co-leader of the World Weather Attribution, an initiative that conducts real-time attribution analysis of extreme weather events around the world.  All this work is a key contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report.

He was a world renown scientist with various awards to his name. TIME magazine named him as one if its 100 most influential people for 2021, together with another IPCC author Friederike Otto. In September the European Meteorological Society presented him with their Technological Achievement Award. In April 2021 he was awarded the Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion in recognition of his contribution to climate science. He was a visiting professor at the University of Oxford.

Geert Jan studied theoretical physics in Leiden and in the late 1980s got his doctorate in particle physics from the Dutch National Institute for Subatomic Physics. He worked for the Dutch national weather service since 1996 when he joined as a post-doc. His initial work was centred around the dynamics and predictability of El Niño and the warming of the sea water in the Eastern Pacific.

He was 59 years old. He is survived by his wife Mandy and 3 sons.

Picture courtesy of KNMI